Global Spotlight Report #56: Passenger Car Trends


A typical passenger vehicle emits approximately 4.6 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. This assumes that the average gasoline vehicle on the road today has a fuel economy of approximately 22.0 miles per gallon and travels approximately 11,500 miles per year. There are many old cars on the road that still reflect these kinds of high mileage standards.

Every gallon of gasoline burned emits approximately 8,887 grams of CO2. Furthermore, pollutants emitted by these vehicles are harmful to our health and contain greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, which contribute to climate change. Byproducts of gasoline and diesel fuel combustion include nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, benzene, and formaldehyde.

For Post 56, Climate Scorecard asked our managers in 19 greenhouse gas emitting countries to assess trends in passenger car use in their countries. We asked them to describe the current status of their country’s passenger car fleet: how many cars are on the road; how new or old are they; how much fuel do they use; what kinds of fuel; and are the cars domestically produced or imported?

Our Country Managers also provided information on the trends towards the purchase and use of electric vehicles and hybrids in their countries; how many EVs currently are on the road; and how many are projected to be on the road in 5-10 years.

Additionally, we asked our Country Managers to assess the impact of their country’s passenger car fleet overtime on the level of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Table below presents highlights from each country’s report. The full Country Reports are provided at the end of the Table.

Table: Passenger Car Trends in Leading Greenhouse-Emitting Countries

Country Passenger Car Trend
  • High passenger car ownership with no mandatory fuel standards
  • Has one of the world’s largest flex-fuel fleets
  • Mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger truck sales to be zero-emissions by 2035
  • Has the world’s largest vehicle charging network
European Union
  • Only 5.3% of passenger car fleet is powered by alternative fuel
  • Seeks to convert passenger car fleet to EVs by 2040
  • Registration of hybrids and EVs is on the rise
  • EVs will constitute 30% of India’s passenger car stock by 2030
  • EVs will constitute 25% of total vehicle sales by 2030
  • EV passenger car rate is the highest in the world
  • To date has few hybrid or electric vehicles
  • 50% of all vehicles projected to be electric and locally built within 10 years
Saudi Arabia
  • Purchase of new EVs remains low yet passenger car emissions have been decreasing
South Africa
  • Import duties and limited local production capacity challenge the use of electric vehicles
  • Seeks to electrify its fossil fuel vehicle fleet by 39% by 2030
  • Lacks local production of EVs
United Kingdom
  • Increases in the purchase of ultra low emissions vehicles (ULEVs)
United States
  • Less than 1% of current cars on the road are electric

Country Reports

Australia has High Passenger Car Ownership and No Mandatory Fuel Standards

While the 2022 Australian federal election signaled a positive change in the way the country is responding to climate change, the country’s love affair with vehicles seems unlikely to end anytime soon. Australia has high rates of vehicle ownership, with the 2021 Australian census demonstrating that by 31st January 2021 the country had 20.1 million…

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Brazil Has Over 34 Million Licensed Vehicles, One of the Largest Flex-Fuel Fleets in the World

According to a study by consultancy Kearney, commissioned by General Motors, Brazil is expected to have a fleet of 5.5 million electric cars by 2035.The 100% electric car segment is the fastest growing in the world. They accounted for more than 7% of car and light commercial vehicle sales in 2021.The president of ABVE –…

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Mandatory Target for All New Light-Duty Cars and Passenger Truck Sales to be Zero-Emissions by 2035 in Canada

As of 2020, Stats Canada reports the number of passenger motor vehicles registered in Canada (vehicles under 4,500 kg) was 23,472,111. Light vehicles in Canada, including passenger cars, light trucks, SUVs, and vans (weighing less than 4,500 kg), account for the largest growth in registrations.  1,358,657 vehicles were produced in Canada in 2020. Additionally, the…

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China’s New Energy Vehicle Strategy Supported by the World’s Largest Vehicle Charging Station Network

China has been the world’s largest and most important car market now for a number of years, with an estimated 302 million passenger cars on the road. More cars are produced and sold in China than in the USA or in the EU despite some decline in sales in more recent years. The China Association…

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Only 5.3% of the EU’s Total Passenger Car Fleet is Powered by Alternative Fuel

Transportation is one of the major sectors that contribute to climate change, as it accounts for 25% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it a necessary area to regulate in order for the EU to reach its 2030 and 2050 emissions goals. Lessening emissions of passenger cars in particular will be pivotal, and both…

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Seeks to Convert its Total Passenger Car Fleet to EVs by 2040

France was a pioneer in the automotive industry and is currently the third-largest automobile manufacturer in Europe after Germany and Spain. However, the country imports more cars than it exports. In 2020, France imported $35.5 billion worth of cars and exported $18.9 billion. The French passenger car fleet has grown recently, increasing from around 35 million passenger cars in 2011…

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The Registration of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles is on the Rise in Germany

Germany has more than 48 million passenger vehicles on the road. This means that for every 10 inhabitants in Germany there are 5.8 passenger vehicles on the road, of which 34% of the owners are women and 32% are over 60 years of age.Last year, almost 1 million (907,000) new vehicles were registered. However, this…

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Electric Vehicles will Constitute 30% of India’s Passenger Car Stock by 2030

India seeks to achieve about 40 % cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by the year 2030, the same year India commits to cut its emissions by half, based on their pledge in COP26. Electric vehicles appear to be the way forward for Indian transportation and the government both at the…

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Indonesia Seeks to Raise the Market Share of Electric Vehicles to 25% of Total Vehicle Sales by 2030

In May 2022, Indonesia’s new vehicle market declined “by almost 10% to 49,453 units compared to 54,815 units in 2021” as per the Just Auto report from June 15, 2022. A report from 14th  June 2022  by Lowy Institute indicates that “In 2021, the ASEAN Automotive Federation reported more than 659,000 passenger vehicle sales in…

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Japanese Passenger Car Electrification Rate is the Highest in the World

Japan is the world’s third largest automobile manufacturer and home to well-known car brands such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Suzuki, Daihatsu, etc. which supply a material portion of the global market share. Not only a prominent exporter of vehicles, Japan also has a huge domestic market with approximately 61.87 million passenger cars on the road…

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Mexico has Few Hybrid or Electric Vehicles to Date

Over the last few years, the passenger car fleet has been gradually increasing in Mexico. According to the latest data from INEGI, in August 2022 there were 3,571,7019 passenger cars in Mexico, which represents an increase of almost 700,000 (approximately 1.8%) since 2021. Regarding their age, the average age of legal vehicles is 10.69 years…

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50% of Vehicles in Nigeria Projected to be Locally Built or Assembled EVs in Ten Years

According to the Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC)  General status of passenger cars in the country The International Trade Administration cites a report by the National Bureau of statistics released in 2018 which put the total number of vehicles in Nigeria at 11.8 million. Of this number, 4.6 million are…

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Challenges to the Adoption of Electric Cars in South Africa Include Import Duties and Limited Local Production

The transport sector in South Africa is the second largest emitter of GHG in the country, responsible for 10.8% of GHG emissions, with road transport accounting for more than 90% of these emissions. From 2000 up to now, there has been a steady increase in GHG emissions from passenger cars. In 2000, GHG emissions from…

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Spain Aiming to Reduce its Vehicle Emissions by 39% by 2030

Diverging from reducing trends of GHG emissions seen in other industries in the EU, transport-related emissions have steadily increased and subsequently become more pronounced. Transport-related emissions account for a considerable amount of the EU’s total GHG emissions, amounting to 22%, excluding shipping and aviation.  In Spain, the situation worsens, with transport emitting 82.5 million tons…

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Purchase of New EVs in Saudi Arabia Remains Low Yet Passenger Car Emissions Have Been Decreasing

Saudi Arabia ranked first among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in the number of vehicles sold in 2021 at about 556, 600 vehicles and the passenger cars per 1,000 people rose 1.59% to 156 vehicles in Saudi Arabia in 2019 and further increased to 241 cars per 1,000 people in August 2021.As the number of…

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No Local Production of EVs in Turkey and Most Passenger Car Stock is Old and Fuel Inefficient 

In 2001 the number of registered vehicles in Turkey was 8.5 million with an average increase of 1 million vehicles per year. However, in 2022 that number exceeded 25 million, corresponding to a  3-fold increase. Nearly half of the registered vehicles are passenger cars with a share of 56%; the rest of the registered vehicles…

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Increase in the Purchase of Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs) in the UK with the End of New Petrol and Diesel Car Sales by 2030

A typical passenger vehicle emits approximately 4.6 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. This assumes that the average gasoline vehicle on the road today has a fuel economy of approximately 22.0 miles per gallon and travels approximately 11,500 miles per year. Every gallon of gasoline burned emits approximately 8,887 grams of CO2. Furthermore, pollutants emitted by…

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Less than 1% of the 250 Million Cars, SUVs, and Light-Duty Trucks on the Road in the United States are Electric 

The United States is commonly regarded as a car-centric country, with cars being a dominant American mode of transport. U.S. infrastructure and road rules tend to privilege cars over other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. Cars have been a major component of American culture, particularly since the 1950s.   Since 2009, the United States is home to the second largest passenger vehicle market of any country…

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